A United London Against Fear

The recent terrorist bombings in London and the terrorist events in the Capital in the last 2 years (since the 7th of July 2005), have made us all feel on edge in London. We have been and will be resilient against the terrorist and extremism threat. Whilst extremism is prevalent in all religions and in various guises, (obviously the most dangerous is violent extremism), the purveyors of hate and the ‘anger message mongers’ need to be targeted and ousted from communities.

In 2005 after the 7/7 bombings, I was invited to be part of the Communities Working Group, a group that had been set up as part of the Extremism Task Force. That invitation was based on my experience of running community cohesion programmes and alternatively, by virtue of being a Muslim, I have also found myself interested in, yet sensitive to the safety and security needs of others. Allied to this, I have also been sensitive to the needs of those large numbers of law abiding and peaceful Muslims who just want to get on with their life and practice in peace. Yet I have also found myself angry at those who have committed terrorist crimes against my fellow citizens, whether they be Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists or members of any faith or none. I have found myself angry at those who commit terrorist atrocities against my fellow citizens who happen to be gay or bisexual and against those innocent bystanders that get caught up in such atrocities. You see, for me, those who carry out terrorist acts of violence not only attempt to kill innocents just getting along with their life, they also do a great dis-service to Muslims and to Islam. In fact, they are a real threat to Islam and to us as British Muslims and this is also the case with those extremists in other faiths. They do an injustice to their respective faiths which are based on tolerance, respect and the protection of human life.

This country has had a deep history of interaction with Muslims and whilst the history has not always been positive and productive, it nonetheless has been a fact of life. Yet, those voices of segregationism and isolationism that come from polar positions have no place within a modern Britain. And what are these polar positions; these include those xenophobes who want ‘Islam and Muslims’ banished from the UK and those who attempt to speak for Muslim communities and who talk the language of hate, isolation and destruction. Funnily, they both politically come from similar places though with opposing ideologies.

So, I say to those who take the line of extremism, ENOUGH! You are the problem and not the solution. To those who talk of a unicultural Britain, I say, the strength of Britain today is its diversity. Through the mixing of different communities, can we learn tolerance and mutual understanding. Through segregation, we only learn to caricature one another.

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